What should we do about all of the new people?

April 1, 2009 | By | 3 Replies More

What should we do about all of the new people?   What new people?  Consider this information from the British Medical Journal:

The world’s population now exceeds 6700 million, and humankind’s consumption of fossil fuels, fresh water, crops, fish, and forests exceeds supply. These facts are connected. The annual increase in population of about 79 million means that every week an extra 1.5 million people need food and somewhere to live. This amounts to a huge new city each week, somewhere, which destroys wildlife habitats and augments world fossil fuel consumption.

Image by evie22 at Flickr (creative commons)

Image by evie22 at Flickr (creative commons)

What does the BMJ suggest as a solution?  Nothing coercive.  Rather, start by emphasizing that two children is the largest responsible number of children a family should have.    Second, make sure that everyone has access to birth control, given that about 1/2 of the world’s births are unplanned; that’s right:  one-half. This article asks, “isn’t contraception the medical profession’s prime contribution for all countries?”   I would think so.  It’s time to stop being cowed by those who get shrill–even furious–when we merely raise the issue of overpopulation, as though discussing the carrying capacity of the Earth is automatically the precursor to instituting coercive techniques to stop only poor people from having children.

It’s time to discuss this issue of overpopulation firmly and responsibly, keeping in mind that each birth in a developed Western country uses 160 times the amount of resources as each baby born in the Third World.


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Category: Environment, ignorance, Reproductive Rights

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    From Lauri Mazur at Alternet:

    In the last half-century, we've learned a lot about why we should slow population growth, and we've also learned how. We now know that the best way to slow population growth is not with top-down "population control," but by ensuring that all people are able to make real choices about sexuality and reproduction.

    That means access to voluntary family planning and other reproductive-health information and services. It means education and employment opportunities, especially for women. And it means tackling the deep inequities — gender and economic — that prevent people from making meaningful choices about childbearing. Each of these interventions is vitally important in its own right as a matter of human rights and social justice. Together, they will help shape a sustainable, equitable future.

  2. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Several years ago, when the Chinese government put a program in place to limit population growth, people in the Western world called it evil, inhumane and a violation of human rights.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    From New Scientist, the United States is the world's most overpopulated country on the planet:

    [T]he key population-related issue is the destructive pressure human activity is exerting on our life-support systems, posing a growing threat to the sustainability of civilisation. Of course, this is not all because of human numbers; it also has to do with how much each of us consumes. That's why, in our view, the US with its population of over 300 million and high per capita consumption should be seen as Earth's most overpopulated nation. It is also why the emergence of "new consumers" constitutes a major additional assault on global life-support systems. Moreover, the 2.3 billion people likely to be added to the human population by 2050 will undermine those systems much more seriously than did the previous 2.3 billion, as each additional person will, on average, have to be supported by scarcer, lower-quality resources imposing ever greater environmental costs.


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